Of love and loss

Can Love Happen Twice?
by Ravinder Singh.
Penguin Metro Reads. 
Pages 214. Rs 125. 

Reviewed by Balwinder Kaur

Some people believe that true love is forever and for them the words ĎI love youí are a lifetime commitment to be honoured by doing whatever it takes to make the relationship work. Ravinder Singh the author of Can Love Happen Twice? is one such person. This book continues the tale that began in the authorís autobiographical debut novel I Too Had A Love Story. After losing the love of his life and desperately searching for reasons to live he gets an unexpected second chance at love.

In this book we find Ravin still reeling from the cruel blow fate dealt him. When his beloved Khushi died days before their engagement he was plunged into the depths of despair. A year and a half later he is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of his true love. He accepts an assignment to Brussels hoping that a change of scene will help. There he crosses paths with Simar an MBA student, to whom he is instantly drawn. Her cheerful and charming temperament gives him another lease on life. Ravin and Simar find a little bit of home in each other and a lot of longing. Looking past his anxiety and trepidation, Ravin realises that he might actually have been blessed with another chance at love and happiness.

Soon their friendship blossoms into romance. Far from family and home, these two grow close and begin planning a life together. When the project in Belgium is completed Ravin has to return to Chandigarh. However, this temporary separation creates a wide chasm between the two as a dissonance of values puts their relationship to the test. They are faced with inevitable hurdles and difficulties, coming in the form of oneís personal ambitions and the otherís traditional family values. Ravin tries to adjust his own requirements knowing that relationships are built on compromise. But love is a delicate and fragile thing that needs two people to keep it alive. The real source of conflict is the separation between what their relationship really is and what they want it to be.

The writing style is realistic and possesses a raw and heartfelt quality. The emotional vulnerability and suffering seems very personal since the book is autobiographical in nature. Of course, there is the question of how much of this emotional account is real, which is impossible to know but it doesnít stop one from wondering.

The book has an informal and conspiratorial tone that a younger audience will find easy to relate to. The story unfolds less chronologically and more with the maturing of the relationship. The use of an unusual narrative device also helps build suspense.

The book would have greater emotional resonance with the reader had it dealt more with Ravinís feelings after the breakdown of the relationship. This would have addressed the age-old question of how much a man can take and how many times he can pick himself up and dust himself off. The narrative is also somewhat hampered by the inconsistent passage of time.

The book chronicles the natural progression of a relationship from the tentative yet eager beginning to comfortable familiarity and then dealing with bitter reality. A lot of this book is about the labour of love.

A love story doesnít necessarily mean that it is a happy story or even a very romantic one; nonetheless the book captures the fleeting and ephemeral nature of love. Just like in real life the ending it isnít neat and definite but there is always hope.